Nappy danger: council pays mums to switch to cloth

Cloth nappies are making a come-back as Australian mums begin to realise the devastating environmental impact - and the high cost - of the disposable alternative.

Now one local council has joined the battle to reduce the damage caused by disposable nappies, offering cash rebates to parents who switch to cloth.

The City of Wyndham will pay $100 rebates to the first 50 people who provide a receipt to show they have switched from disposable to cloth nappies, and $50 rebates for women who choose to use more sustainable sanitary products.

Almost 1 billion disposable nappies end up in landfill in Australia every year and, because they take between 200 and 500 years to break down, almost every one that has ever been dumped remains in existance today. 

Worse, most people put nappies into plastic bags before disposing of them, meaning they will remain in the environment forever.

Even more alarming, mums and dads who prefer the perceived convenience of the disposable product may unwittingly be placing their infant's health, both short and long term, at risk.

That's because disposable nappies contain Dioxins, which are banned in most countries and are listed as dangerous by the EPA because they have been linked to issues with the human immune and reproductive systems, as well as skin disease.

But it doesn't stop there: the absorbant gel-like substance in disposable nappies, Sodium Polycarbonate, is known to cause respiratory issues and skin rashes. It is so dangerous it is now banned from use in feminine hygiene products because it has been linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome.

Wyndham councillor Heather Marcus  said an average of 94 babies were born every week in Wyndham.

“That means tonnes of disposable nappies have been sent to landfill – and this is not sustainable long term, especially with our growing population,” Cr Marcus said.

“Even if you use cloth nappies at the weekend, or whenever it is convenient, it helps us reduce waste from landfill.”

Studies have found families who switch to cloth are, on average, $1000 better off per year.

The Wyndham trial will run until 30th October 2020 and will coincide with a series of virtual workshops to learn the benefits of cloth nappies, the different types available, along with tips on storing and cleaning.

The first online workshop will be held Saturday 18th April from 10am to 12pm. Information and bookings can be made at

Further information about the rebate trial is available at

Disposable nappies: the uncomfortable facts

  • Take up to 500 years to break down in landfill May never break down if disposed of inside plastic bags
  • Faeces in disposable nappies produces methane 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide
  • Take 500,000 litres of water to produce three months worth of disposable nappies for just one child - approximately 2 million litres per year, per child
  • Contain chemicals that have been linked to respiratory, reproductive and immune system damage, fever, vomiting and staph infections
  • Cost on average $1000 more per child, per year than cloth
  • Use 3.5 times more energy and 8 times more non-renewable resources to produce


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